Except, possibly, for a handful of seminomadic quinine hunters somewhere in Sumatra, just about everybody in the world has come to realize what American television's basic dedications are. The three networks are very strong for the elimination of cavities, dirt, sweat, Polish wives who can't cook Italian, malnourished pets and burping. They are also very strong for the advancement of better mileage, scented breath and guava-colored jetliners. This is all terrific for the guys in the industry who play a lot of paddle tennis and throw around terms like "thirty-six mill" and "eighty-four thou" as if these were towns near Old Greenwich. The salesmen know the viewers will swing in there with whatever comes up in the big window, be it Secret Squirrel or George Brent. Anyhow, they ask, what do the viewers know about love, which is money? Don't they all have eyes like macaroni with meat sauce, suffer from chronic neck aches and want Walter Cronkite for President? Don't worry about the programming, Billy Tom. Let's all just phase into "21" and do a total face-down in the salad.
Fortunately for at least some of the country's 180 million dial-twisters, the industry is not always so insensitive. There are instances when its thinkers will drive a root canal through the great bicuspid of Madison Avenue and put something live and in color up there in the glorious glass—a political follies, a space shot or, more often than those, a sports event. When this happens, and when it is done well, TV becomes the electronic pleasure pill that it should be.
This occurred almost a year ago in Augusta, Ga., at that essential American quilt spread, the Masters golf tournament. Few annual events lend themselves to television quite as well as the Masters, the first major outdoor sports event of the year. It reeks with live action furnished by a lot of familiar heroes: Our Arnie, Big Jack, Black Gary, Darling Doug, Battling Billy. It also mixes in some old eagles—gray ones like Hogan and bald ones like Snead—and a variety of Chen Ching-pos, with the dogwood and azalea for incidental set decoration. And the whole scene is awash with color, Augusta-CBS color, which, of course, is better than the less vivid hues of God, though perhaps not as good as NBC's.
The Masters is a perfect opportunity for TV to be a newsy, gorgeous, creative showoff, to further enhance the good images left it by Edward R. Murrow's cigarette, Sid Caesar's parodies and Paddy Chayefsky's scripts. It is one of the prestige presentations that CBS has worked hard to keep over the years, like NFL football. Networks have an awful time establishing their identity with the viewers at home, and this kind of show helps. If you ask the average vidiot to tell you the difference between the three networks, you would be fortunate if he could say that NBC has Johnny Carson, Huntley-Brinkley, baseball and I Spy; that ABC has Batman, Combat!, college football and Wide World of Jim McKay—er, Sports; and that CBS has Gun-smoke, Cronkite, Morley Safer's war in Vietnam, the NFL and the Masters.
Doing the Masters right is not easy, not at all what the viewer might imagine—a lone cameraman bounding along a fairway with the equipment on his back and Commentator Jack Whitaker looking more tanned than usual in the giddy social whirl of the 18th green. To come out with the splendid show that CBS did a year ago required 10 years of bungles, worry, argument, mechanical refinement, thought and invention. More specifically, it took months of planning, 150 men, 15 cameras, a bastion of giant trailer trucks, 60,000 feet of underground cable and $600,000. What this produced was four and a half hours of live color coverage that began with Saturday's third round of play and ended late Monday evening with Jack Nicklaus' playoff victory.
Backstage at the 1966 Masters was a sort of athletic event of its own, a week of flickering madness in Producer-Director Frank Chirkinian's control truck when the show was beaming out to millions, and of bizarre hilarity practically everywhere else.
The week started, as most weeks do for TV, with a lot of worry—terrible, grave worry. The site was the lawn in front of the Augusta National Golf Club veranda. The general staff of CBS Sports, all dressed in dark-blue blazers with crests and looking something like a confused group of AAU officials at an Olympics, was wearing out the grass. Its concern was the opening of the show, the fact that it was being written and rewritten, approved and unapproved, and criticized by practically everyone in town. There was also uneasiness about the man who was doing the opening on tape.
The situation was this. CBS had agreed to a request of Tournament Chairman Clifford Roberts, a lifelong friend of Bobby Jones and the man who runs the Masters like Napoleon ran France, that each day's telecast would begin with a solemn opening. The introduction would set a prestigious mood and state the fact that there would be a reduced number of commercials in tribute to the importance of the event.
When Roberts had first asked the sponsors, Travelers insurance and Arrow shirts, for fewer commercials, an agency fellow in New York had said, "What does he think the Masters is, a moon shot?" Nevertheless, Roberts did get five commercials sliced from the scheduled two days of telecasting—a feat, some said, that was comparable to Jones's Grand Slam. But the tournament chairman also felt that this fact should be announced before and after each show by someone outside the realm of sport. A Walter Cronkite, perhaps. Or even a Dwight D. Eisenhower.
For a while no one involved could think of the proper person. Drawing close to deadline, with the Cronkites and Eisenhowers unobtainable, someone in New York got the big idea that Ed Sullivan would be good, and put it to Roberts. "Ed Sullivan!" Roberts reportedly said. "If we wanted anybody from show business, we could get Randolph Scott!"
The man finally selected was Jim Jensen, a handsome fellow from WCBS-TV's local news staff in New York. Roberts had seen him and had liked him. Jensen was dignified. He had a convincing manner and a sincere tone. Ah, but that opening. Somehow, in the editing by club members and ad agency writers, Jensen wound up identifying himself on the final tape as a "news correspondent."
Granted, that may seem accurate enough to outsiders, but in television there is an important line between a correspondent and ordinary Earth people. A correspondent is most properly a man over in Vietnam eyewitnessing assaults on poppy fields or, at the very least, a familiar face famed for discoursing on vital events. Jim Jensen, whether Masters officials realized it or not—and CBS was afraid to ask—was a local news announcer. This meant that the peak of his journalistic success might involve a description of events on the Long Island Expressway during a blizzard.
Therefore among those blue blazers on the Masters lawn there was genuine distress. If they asked to edit the word correspondent, Roberts might ask to edit five more commercials. At the same time, with Jensen falsely identifying himself, the phone would ring at Masters control, and it would be Jack Schneider wanting to know what was going on. Bill MacPhail, the vice-president in charge of sports, would have to take the call, and he did not really need a call like that from Schneider, who is the boss of everyone at CBS except William Paley and Dr. Frank Stanton.
Now, as they all stood around, Frank Chirkinian said, "Bill, just tell Schneider that Cliff Roberts promoted Jensen."
Chirkinian has a habit of always being the voice of sanity and good humor, wherever he is. He was the most vital person, networkwise, in Augusta, for, as both the producer and chief director, he was in complete command. He was not overly worried about the Jensen dilemma. Jensen could introduce himself as Nancy Dickerson and it would be all right with Frank. The director was more concerned with the camera angles and velvet words that would fill the tense hours of live coverage.
Bill MacPhail, a gentleman who could easily make the semifinals in a Captain Nice Guy pageant, said, "This is serious, and I think worthy of a cocktail."
CBS Sports Director Jack Dolph, who was vice-chairman to MacPhail in charge of Augusta Worry, agreed. Chirkinian said, "Go ahead. If I wanted a drink, I'd go get Randolph Scott."
Chirkinian, acknowledged to be the best golf director in television and one who has been responsible for all kinds of innovations, proceeded to stroll away, doing one of his favorite things, singing a parody applicable to the event he happens to be covering. He sang:
You take Lionel—and I'll take Jay.
You take Marty—and I'll take Ed.
Let's call the Masters off.
That evening the problem of the program opening was temporarily put aside, and the elite guard of the CBS team turned to something of a more pressing nature—its annual Calcutta pool on the tournament. It was held in one of the six sumptuous private homes in Augusta that the company rents during Masters Week.
While visitors tore into a large ham on a drainboard in the kitchen and collapsed on the carpet in the living room, MacPhail turned auctioneer. The top players were sold individually. But packages were also available—a dozen Dudley Wysongs say, with a Terry Dill thrown in, and for only $3.80. A couple of the crew, being somewhat less than golf-wise, were not immediately willing to accept the fact that people named Cobie Legrange and Ed Tutwiler actually existed. MacPhail was his own most active bidder, barely edging out Dolph, and later on they had the foggy recollection that they had managed to buy almost everyone, including, they feared, Randolph Scott.
Thursday, the day of the first round, was important to CBS for several reasons. There was a complete dress rehearsal, "full fax," they call it, which in television means complete dress rehearsal. MacPhail and Dolph had to go to the airport to pick up an assortment of brass, including John Reynolds, then the president of CBS-TV, Jack Schneider and a sales vice-president named Ted O'Connell. The brass had to be taken to the club and impressed by the fact that the veranda was teeming with hosts of corporate celebrities.
This was also the day Frank Chirkinian held a massive production meeting to remind everyone that they weren't getting ready to do Supermarket Sweep come Saturday. He had not especially liked the rehearsal.
"Mechanically everything worked fine, including the jaws of the commentators," said Chirkinian. "Cut your talk in half."
The crew of commentators included Jack Whitaker on the 18th green, Jack Drees and Byron Nelson on the 17th, Henry Longhurst, the British writer, on the 16th, John Derr on the 15th and Cary Middlecoff in a far-off basement room of the clubhouse. Down there Middlecoff's job was to deliver expertise while staring at diagrams of holes, stop-action, or the tournament itself on a contraption called the TNT Eidophor, a special projection device that provides a screen within the live screen and can be clearly explained only by the Swiss scientist who invented it.
When Chirkinian had ended what he called his "harpoon-the-commentators meeting," he asked if there were other problems that anyone would care to bring up.
"No, I don't think so," said Whitaker. "I think now that my morale has been thoroughly destroyed I'll leave. If you'll excuse me, I'm taking Dr. Zhivago's calls tonight."
Jack Dolph said he did not want to frighten the crew unnecessarily, but he had received word that the Scotch tape, rubber bands and paper clips had not arrived.
"You jest," said Chirkinian.
"I jest not," said Dolph. "You ready? They were shipped to Nevada."
"Gentlemen," said Frank, "for the first time in the history of this network, we are going to do a show without Scotch tape, rubber bands or paper clips."
This particular evening was devoted to that fine old American pastime of tension-relieving. The directors, commentators and brass split in all directions, making the rounds of the private parties that are a feature of the Masters. Several of them wound up at what passes for the late, late show in Augusta. It was a place called the Key Club. A members-only cocktail lounge—you join by walking in—it offered a number of treats, not the least of which were a combo that could play louder than the siege of Vicksburg, a lucky blackjack dealer and scads of noncoms from nearby Fort Gordon.
Someone had insisted on taking Jack Schneider there. It was part of the flavor he ought to see. Having only recently recovered from the unflattering publicity that accompanied Fred Friendly's resignation as head of CBS News, Schneider gazed around the room and said, "Well, here I am. Where's the Daily News reporter?"
Friday's dress rehearsal went well, and Chirkinian's production meeting afterward reflected this. The director could make only a few small points. Jay Hebert's name was misspelled on the scoreboard in Middlecoff's basement. "Jay Hebert's name is always misspelled," said Dolph. "He ought to change it to Herbert." Frank wondered if Jim Jensen intended to get a haircut—another retape of that introduction was still possible. There had been too much talking on the intercom during production. "Let there be one leader, Frank said. He asked if Schneider had enjoyed himself and did anyone know when he was going back to New York? (Schneider was headed back.) He said he hoped there would not be too many green jackets—Masters committeemen—in the truck tomorrow. He announced that the show would begin 30 minutes before air time so they would have a flying start. "Well, gentlemen," he concluded, "that's about all. Good luck tomorrow, and I'd just like to announce that I'm going back in the dry-cleaning business."
Chirkinian looks almost like Hollywood's conception of a TV director. He is a natty little man, dark-complexioned, with black, wavy hair, horn-rimmed glasses, alligator loafers and a 10 handicap. This was going to be his eighth straight Masters for CBS. His earlier training had not been in sports, however. A native of Philadelphia, he had been in the Army, done a year at Penn and two years at Philadelphia's Columbia Institute. In Philadelphia he had directed just about everything possible—musicals, news, drama, public affairs, variety and circuses. Along the way to CBS he had become a golf nut, and this had certainly shown in his work at Augusta, as well as on the CBS Golf Classic, the best of the canned golf shows.
Chirkinian's job at the Masters was far from enviable. Few creatures, electronic or otherwise, are more imposing than a TV control truck. The one at Augusta was a blinking monster of 14 screens, large and small, color and not, of live pickup, videotape replays and stop-action. Frank's duty was to watch them all simultaneously while keeping in constant touch with commentators, assistant directors and technicians, and select which of the different pictures should go on the air.
Physically, the network's setup as air time approached for Saturday's one-hour show on the third round was this: Chirkinian was at his table in what television romantically calls the hot truck. He was seated between an assistant director with a stopwatch, Roland Vance, and a technical director, Sandy Bell, who punches a button when the director says, "Take one," or, "Take three," or whatever he wants. Also in the truck was Lou Scanna, the engineer in charge who was responsible for all of the plugs being in their sockets, one of the few men in the world who knows why you can get a picture on your screen at home. MacPhail and Dolph were present, of course—to worry. Another huge truck was situated down near the 16th green, and squeezed in there was Bob Daley, a fine director in his own right, who rates up there with Chirkinian, CBS's Tony Verna, NBC's Harry Coyle and ABC's Mack Hemion as the elite in the business. Daley was acting as Chirkinian's assistant. It was his job to punch up the action from the 15th, 16th and 17th holes as best he saw it, and ride shotgun on the commentators at those locations. The voice men—talent, they are called, perhaps because they earn 84 thou a year, or a lot, anyhow—were all on their towers in their blue blazers, and Middlecoff was in his basement, frequently sending such messages to Chirkinian on the intercom as, "I'm here if you need me, doll."
As show time drew close, Chirkinian sat calmly calling up test shots—the scoreboard, Whitaker, various greens, competitors walking along.
"Fellows," he said in his headset, "let's remember to keep sight reference at all times, and let's keep silent on all shots. We've got these tees and fairways miked for audio, so we want to hear it when they swing."
He glanced at one of the screens and noted that a cameraman, playfully scanning the crowd at 18, had located a shapely bell-bottomed spectator.
"Barracuda," Frank said.
Bill MacPhail left for a neighboring trailer to get a Coke, and when he returned he asked if Chirkinian was happy with the Whitaker opening that had been tested earlier.
"It'll be fine," Frank said. "I'll stick some spurs in him just before we go on."
Dolph leaned forward and reminded Frank that he should use as much stop-action stuff as possible because Paley likes it.
"Paley who?" Frank said, without turning around.
Just then Roland Vance—earphones on, stopwatch uplifted, papers spread out before him—said that it was seven minutes to go. At about the same time, the truck door opened and in came several CBS friends, none of them wearing green jackets. They were Dave Marr and his wife Susan, Bruce Crampton and his wife Joan, Charlie Conerly, the ex-New York Giant quarterback, and his wife Perian, and a pretty plantation owner from Houston named Eloise Rowan.
Dolph said, "What's the story on the bigger truck we ordered?"
Everyone crammed in. Chirkinian lit his 97th cigarette of the day, sat up a little straighter in his folding chair, adjusted his headset like a bomber pilot in flak and said that great thing which people in television enjoy saying so much:
"One and a half 'til air."
As Roland Vance started waving his arms, Chirkinian went on talking. "Whit, we've got a good tournament here. The scores are close. Everybody's in there with a chance—Palmer, Nicklaus, all the guys.... Hey! You guys downstairs. I want that scoreboard up to date right now.... Get the stop-action on Nicklaus ready. We'll get into that pretty quick, Cary..."
"Ten seconds," shouted Vance. "Stand by."
Chirkinian spoke quietly. "Good luck and good show," he said.
"Roll Augusta music!" cried Vance.
Suddenly on the big color screen there was Jim Jensen with a haircut and what might have been a wisteria. It was the tape of his opening.
"Good afternoon," said he. "I'm CBS News Correspondent Jim Jensen. Because of the importance of the program you are about to see, it is being brought to you with a reduced number of..."
Jensen concluded the opening with the line that was a cue for Whitaker and a signal that the Masters was now live. "May you enjoy the show you are about to see," he intoned.
"We're on!" shrieked Vance.
"Go, Jack," Chirkinian whispered. "Go, Babe."
As Whitaker took over and began bringing the tournament into focus—Jack Nicklaus had led the first round, Paul Harney and Peter Butler had taken over in the second, and now today the big stars were really making a move—a knock came on the door of the control truck. It was Yvonne Connors, a CBS secretary from the other trailer. She said that Bill MacPhail was wanted on long distance. It was Jack Schneider back in New York.
"Where do you want to have the body shipped?" said Dolph.
MacPhail returned in a few minutes looking as if he had just heard a rumor that the NFL was going to merge with the AFL. He smiled and slowly sat down. "Guess what Schneider wanted?" he said.
"I'm sure he didn't want to know why Jensen called himself a correspondent," said Dolph.
MacPhail said, "I just told him it was a conspiracy involving some foreign powers, and the CIA would furnish us all with a full report."
Back on the panel of 14 screens before Chirkinian, the tournament was tightening up. The leaders were creeping into view in this corner and that. This is when a director ages. He is likely to have two or three key dramas at hand, and, of course, he can show only one at a time. The trick is knowing the sport and the tendencies of the athletes—exactly how long Nicklaus is likely to putt, when Palmer will drive, how much study Sanders will give to a chip. A director cannot be caught showing Arnie hitching up his trousers when Casper is pulling off the bunker shot that wins the championship. At least, a director can't do it too often and stay a director.
Chirkinian seemed to be doing remarkably well in spite of the periodic irritant of Roland Vance shouting something like, "Two minutes past ideal commercial!"
To Bob Daley, Frank said, "Bobby, you'd better whip your boys a little. We got a hell of a tournament here and they sound like they're asleep."
He went to Whitaker.
"A little more schmaltz, Jack, on the tightness of the race." Frank then over-dramatized his voice and mimicked someone that highly amused MacPhail and Dolph. "Believe me, folks, you could cut the tension here with a hot butterknife."
And then to Whitaker he said, "Don't say that, for God's sake." The truck swayed gently with the laughter.
There was hardly any time to enjoy the frivolity. A crucial moment was approaching. Jack Nicklaus had come to the 18th tee and Arnold Palmer was back on the 16th, both of them struggling to catch the current leader, Gay Brewer Jr. The audio picked up a devastating whack as Nicklaus drove into the woods. The camera caught Palmer's shot biting into the 16th green and curling toward the flag.
Palmer striding onto the green made a spectacular view in color, and Bob Daley had it. Somehow, the lighting on Palmer, and the emerald turf mingling with the shade of the pines, and the pond and flowers in the background, combined to represent, in Chirkinian's mind, everything the Masters stood for.
"Good shot, Bob," Frank said. "Beautiful. Look at that Picasso!"
The director's ecstasy was interrupted by Yvonne Connors again knocking on the trailer door and peeking in.
"I don't know what to do," she said. "Mr. Roberts just called and said the TV set in his cottage isn't working right and he wants somebody over there to fix it immediately."
"Terrific," said Frank, glued to his screens.
MacPhail looked at Dolph. Dolph looked at MacPhail. They both turned and looked at Lou Scanna. "O.K.," said Lou, getting up. He edged toward the door, poked his head out and called to a technician, "Would you go over to Roberts' house and kick the set, or something?"
Jack Nicklaus, at the moment, was having worse problems. He was virtually out of sight in the woods on the 18th hole. Middlecoff's voice came into the truck. "Frank, we're gonna have to get big Jack in those woods. This is a real important shot."
"Thanks a lot, Cary," Frank said. "I'll tell you what I can do. I can hit a couple of trees with Armenian lightning."
As Nicklaus thrashed around in the woods, Palmer was preparing to putt for a birdie on the 16th. Chirkinian stood up.
"We need a little luck here, babies," he said.
Palmer putted. "Jack, throw it to 16," Frank said. The ball rolled toward the cup. "Ready two, and open the fairway on 18. Take two." Then Nicklaus slashed from the woods. Palmer's ball neared the cup. "Take remote." It missed, narrowly. "Take three." Nicklaus' ball bounded into a bunker left of the green. "Take remote," Frank said. Palmer grimaced. "Bob, give me a closeup." Nicklaus emerged from the woods. "Take one," said the director. Nicklaus closeup. And, finally, Chirkinian sat down. It had been 30 seconds of sheer show-business torture, and an excellent moment in a good production.
When CBS did its first Masters in 1956 it used only six cameras, all of them trained exclusively on the greens, and Bud Palmer was the lone commentator, sitting on the 18th and describing the other holes from a monitor. Chirkinian encouraged making it a more sophisticated production his first year, which was 1959.
At that Masters, CBS increased the number of cameras to 12; moreover, Frank deployed them so that fairways and tees could be shown, and he upped the number of commentators to three. A year later several other notable changes were made. Chirkinian miked the tees and greens. The conduits were put underground to eliminate the cables strewn everywhere for Arnie's Army to trip over. And along with a producer named Jud Bailey, he invented the plus-minus scoring system that Clifford Roberts himself adopted for the big leader boards (with red for under par and green for over). In 1965 Chirkinian upped the camera quota to the present total of 15, added helicopter footage, hole diagrams, video reruns, stop-action, the TNT Eidophor, more commentators, and improved camera positions. Equally important, he by now had a dedicated, experienced crew working with him. And in 1966 had come color.
On Sunday CBS had the telecast scheduled for an hour and a half, but, unlike the old days, it was geared to stay on, hang the expense, until the Masters had a champion. Not too many years ago television would bid a fond farewell to the excitement when its allotted hour was up, and if Sam Snead happened to be bent over a winning putt at the time, that was tough luck. You could get the result on the late news.
"We're different now," MacPhail explained Sunday morning. "We're cleared to run over into prime time if the guys play slow today. And if there's a playoff Monday, we'll be on. In fact, if there is sudden death after the playoff, Frank thinks we could cover it remote." He wasn't sure how—perhaps with Whitaker on a golf cart with a Brownie, preempting Cronkite's news. Talk of sudden death gave MacPhail an unfriendly feeling in his stomach.
The program opened Sunday with the same dramatic countdown procedures of the day before. A couple of new spectators were in the truck, both of them wearing green jackets. They were crouched down near Chirkinian, presumably to see to it that CBS did not mess up the show.
"Do they know anything about television?" someone discreetly asked Jack Dolph.
"Maybe they taught Chris Schenkel everything he knows," Dolph said.
Things went along in an orderly manner for a spell, but then the Masters burst apart with the excitement that it always seems to provide on Sunday afternoon. Gay Brewer's lead was far from secure. Tommy Jacobs was hanging in there. Jack Nicklaus had a good chance if he made a move. So did Palmer.
Feeling this, Chirkinian's voice began to pick up some emotion and strain that it had not previously shown. The delicate ear might even have detected a bark in his tone.
He buzzed Bob Daley in the other truck.
"Bobby, the players are nervous. There's tension. This is the big one. Let's drive these commentators a little, O.K.?"
A moment later Frank said, "What's all the noise on the headset, fellows?"
There was frantic activity everywhere on the closing holes. Nicklaus birdied the 14th, Jacobs birdied the 15th, and when Brewer could only make a par at 17 there was the possibility of a three-way tie. Chirkinian leaped up and clapped his hands, and, coming back down, remembered that he had alerted Whitaker to make a specific point about something or other. He had forgotten what.
"Just vamp, Jack," Frank said. "Go."
Whitaker "vamped" about tension, the azaleas and Bobby Jones, and seemed about to launch into a soliloquy on the Teapot Dome scandal when Chirkinian rescued him. Palmer and Brewer were on the 17th, where Palmer blew a kick-in birdie putt that would have brought him into contention.
Frank followed them up the 18th where Brewer had a seven-footer for a par 4 that might lock up the Masters.
"This is it, Doll," said Middlecoff on the intercom.
Chirkinian said to Whitaker, "This is the most important putt of Gay Brewer's life, Jack."
And Whitaker said to Videoland, "This is surely the most important putt of Gay Brewer's life."
If it was, that was too bad, because Brewer missed the putt. He was now in a tie with Tommy Jacobs for the championship, and Nicklaus, who had just picked up another birdie, only had to par the last two holes to make it a three-way playoff.
Nicklaus played quite deliberately down that stretch—including the dramatic miss of a three-foot birdie putt on 17—and this enabled Chirkinian to prepare for the big finish on the final green.
"I want to really hear that sound," he said. "When Nicklaus comes up the fairway near the green, I want to hear the crowd. I want some emotion. This is a hell of a finish.... This guy may birdie the hole, and I want reactions.... I may have a reaction.... Who's got Nicklaus in the pool anyhow?"
Nicklaus had a tremendously long birdie putt on the last green to win. It seemed that a playoff was assured, but Chirkinian wanted a buildup.
"Jack," he said to his anchor man, "there's Brewer and Jacobs, watching on the edge of the green. They have no other recourse but to watch, right?...Wait, don't repeat that."
Chirkinian wheeled around in the truck, giggling at himself. He glanced at MacPhail. "My resignation will be on your desk tomorrow morning," he said.
Nicklaus hit a beautiful putt that barely twisted away from the cup, dying at the last faint second amid chaotic shouts of, "Take one, take five, take three," from the director and the agonizing groan of the gallery on the audio.
Whitaker rapidly did a résumé, the show signed off, and Dolph spoke for everyone in the truck when he said, "I don't suppose we'd do anything like have nine thousand cocktails?"
As nearly all 18-hole playoffs in golf are, Monday's was anticlimactic, especially when compared to the roaring finish of the previous day. CBS was on the air before the players had reached camera range at the 14th green, and when they eventually got there Nicklaus held a two-stroke lead over Jacobs, while Gay Brewer was playing like Chirkinian. This meant the show had quite a bit of fill in it. But Chirkinian made the most of some taped replays from Sunday and of stop-action on Nicklaus' swing, and Middlecoff gave several playing lessons. Not perfect, but good enough.
At one point after the competitors had traipsed into view, Chirkinian got annoyed by a couple of camera shots. One had been an intimate closeup of a spectator's hand. "What's this?" Frank bellowed. "I want Jacobs, and you gimme a hand?" The other had been a rear view of an official who had marched into the middle of a fairway to observe Nicklaus' approach to the 17th. "That's it," Frank said. "You just get right out there, and we'll swing along down to Wall Street together."
There was still a dim chance that Jacobs could make up two strokes on Nicklaus and force a sudden-death playoff, but the odds against it were overwhelming. Lou Scanna, the engineer, had set in motion the sudden-death preparations when Nicklaus and Jacobs had been tied through the front nine. Now he had a question.
"Is sudden death canceled?" he asked.
Chirkinian laughed and said, "Lou, you're beautiful."
"Well is it?" Scanna said. "My guy's on the headset, and he says it's not only dark out there, they have taken out the pins everywhere and are watering the greens." The truck exploded with laughter befitting a merciful ending.
Had Nicklaus not maintained his lead and won the 1966 Masters, it would surely have been the most interesting sudden death in golf history. It would have been played Tuesday morning, and CBS could have done it as a two-minute commercial on a Leave It to Beaver rerun.
Several weeks later, after all concerned had recovered from the battleground that was Augusta, Frank Chirkinian was in Shor's one evening and happy as an Armenian dry cleaner who had discovered the white knight. He had accepted an Emmy for CBS sports. It had not been won for the Masters—which was a shame—but for the CBS Golf Classic. And CBS and Chirkinian had not won it alone. The awards committee had also presented one to NBC and ABC—a three-way tie, like Augusta. Still, it was an Emmy.
"Anyhow," said Frank, "who'll ever know? It doesn't look bad on the hood of the car."